If there is one truth in working on rights-issues, it is that cooperation is indispensable: individual organisations – in the South or the North - cannot realistically hope to achieve much by themselves.
Especially in the field of Economic, Social and Cultural rights (ESC-rights), more and more experience and insight is being gained in the struggle to gain recognition of these rights. Experience shows that information-gathering and analysis of decision-making processes, (both local and international e.g. the machinery of the UN), lobbying at local and international level with the results of this analysis, and defining joint strategies (for example in preparing parallel reports) is sharpening NGO-agenda’s.
All of this requires actively seeking complementarity and extremely agile information-sharing across continents and specific fields of ESC-rights. Good examples of where that can lead is in the broad and empowering process involving many local NGO’s in the preparation of a parallel report, (as in the case of Brazil) and the preparation, under discussion now, of an international database and monitoring system for the Right to Food.
ICCO's active membership in the International Network for Economic, Social & Cultural Rights, and other examples point to the growing influence of multi-partner initiatives to ‘make rights real’ also show that the human rights movement cannot do without effective, flexible tools for communication and joint learning.
We have foud that the use of Dgroups greatly helped participative preparation of nearly 60 human rights activities organised by more than 80 organisations from four continents during the World Social Forum in January of this year: a sub-group of 25 organisations used the same mechanism for organising specific gender-related HR-activities.
More and more, the results of research, among others to understand the implications of judgements by regional Courts of Human Rights and UN-institutions and their mechanism is becoming available. We will also need systems to disseminate and work on the insights gained and translate them into increasing institutional capacities to effectively occupy the space available.
This will be one of the main challenges for the short term in which ICCO needs to combine the efforts of it Capacity-building and Knowledge units, with our programme specialists and related partners in South and North. One example of such an effort going on right now is to define how we will participate in building the monitoring system for the Right to Food.
by Pim Verhallen